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New convection oven failing for bread, help!

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Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

New convection oven failing for bread, help!

For the past few years I've been using a very old oven that wasn't very good, but I'd learned how to manage it for my bread.

Recently I've gotten a new oven, and it works well for everything, but bread. I'm making crusty lean sourdough loaves with (preferably) nice ears. In this new oven, it seems that either my bread is not expanding fast enough to open up properly and form the ear before the crust dries out too much, or maybe the other way around. So I'm getting offensive undersprung bricks with bad crust.

I've been using a fairly rudimentary steaming method, a hot pan under my baking stone with water poured in, and a spray bottle. Worked in the old oven, don't know if something needs to be done differently here. I've attempted this at temperatures ranging from 425 to 500, it never works. It almost seems as if the oven isn't getting hot enough to generate enough steam and cause the loaf to expand quick enough, but if even the oven's maximum temperature isn't enough, I don't know what I can do anymore.

I wonder if the air circulation of the convection isn't drying out my crust faster than before? I'm going to give it another try with that off and see if it makes a difference. But I really don't know what's going on. I'm pretty grumpy, I can't deny, having to stop making the loaves I want is an obnoxious prospect.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I think that you will see improvement when you turn off the convection.  Ovens have a wide wide range of behaviors from one to the next and I am guessing that with time you will make friends with your new oven and all will be well again.

Is the new oven gas or electric?

Jeff

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Electric. 

Yes, I'm trying with it off tomorrow. I know that people have pulled off wonderful breads with much worse equipment. The problem in a situation like this is just that, to pinpoint which variables are the problem, it takes a lot of tests and a lot of crummy (ha) loaves, which is disheartening. We will see.

plevee's picture
plevee

Turn the convection off for the first 12 mins or so so that the steam isn't evacuated from the oven. Then turn the convection on for the rest of the bake.

If the oven has a vent you can close you could do that instead. The point is to keep the steam in the oven till ovenspring is complete then use the convection to give you a nice crisp crust.

Patsy

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Yeah, I just realized that blowing all the steam out might be the issue, when I was standing in front of the oven and took notice that it was blowing a bunch of air at me. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

use Sylvia's steaming method.  Add a rolled up kitchen towel to the pan and fill it about 3/4ths full of water (I'm thinking a normal loaf pan- I actually use 2 on neach side of for my oven) and heat them for 45 minutes when you preheat the oven at 500 F .

Right before you slam the door with the bread on the stone throw a half cup of water in the bottom of the oven.  4 minutes later turn the oven down to 450 regular bake and steam for 11 more minutes.  Remove the steam and bake at 425 convection until the bread is done.   Sounds weird but it works for me.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to convection.  That way the oven can be turned on full blast and the loaf is protected inside it's own little oven.  

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

I've tried two more loaves since I posted this topic. No convection.

One worked out, but barely. I could tell that the expansion was a bit less than it could have been. The second one failed. Had to do the shameful deed of re-scoring partway through baking in order to get something half passable.

Maybe a new way of steaming would do the trick. This oven doesn't seem to have as good of a seal as my old one. A more aggressive method might be needed.

plevee's picture
plevee

This is the method I use since the convection on my oven cannot be turned off. I learned it from Dom, an Australian baker.

Heat the oven to 500F with an old cast iron frying pan on the bottom of the oven - at least 30 mins.

Then load the bread - I always use a baking stone - and pour 1 cup of boiling water into the frying pan. Close the oven door and turn the oven OFF for 10 mins. Then turn the oven on at 400-425F and continue to bake until done.

This is a performance but it is the only way I can get decent oven-spring with a convection only oven.

Patsy